I guess I cover the reverse trike beat here at TTAC.
It started with a post about a Chinese
death trap three-wheeler I’d seen advertised. In the comments to that post, one of our readers suggested looking into the Elio project. We’ve done that a few times since then, including an exclusive review of one of their prototypes. Because of our coverage of Elio Motors, a group of Elio deposit holders who have become disenchanted by continued production delays asked us to consider their charges. While it’s true that I’m in what may be a minority of automotive writers that don’t think Elio is a scam, I’m not naive. There are ample reasons for skepticism and we take the word truth in our title seriously, so Mark Stevenson and I looked into the critics’ complaints and we both decided they were adding nothing new to issues raised by Elio’s critics before.
However, I do keep tabs on their Facebook group, which is how I found out about Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon company that hopes to put their highway capable electric reverse trike in production by the end of next year with a starting price of $11,900. (Read More…)
Businesses aren’t the only groups of people who try to influence what we publish here. TTAC has been getting emails from a number of people who put deposits down on the yet-to-be-produced Elio trike, only to become disillusioned after production has been pushed back a number of times.
There are at least a couple of Facebook pages devoted to disaffected Elio enthusiasts that accuse Elio Motors and Paul Elio of misleading people. In addition to the delays, most of the complaints seem to center around the fact that the company is promoting and taking deposits for a $6,800 vehicle when Elio hasn’t yet raised enough money to start production of a car that Paul Elio admits doesn’t yet meet their advertised price point.
The company has been using social media to promote the enterprise and its critics have seized on Elio Motors’ Facebook page as a venue to express their displeasure. Words like “liars” and “scam ” have been tossed around. Consequently, a number of those critics say they have been banned from that page by Elio Motors. (Read More…)
In today’s crowdsourced and Instagrammed era, companies are always looking to create some buzz, so Elio Motors can be excused for publicizing the fact it’s starting to build its fifth prototype of its proposed super-economical enclosed tandem reverse trike. Actually, it’s a fairly significant step as what they are calling P5 will be the first Elio vehicle powered by Elio’s own IAV designed 0.9L three-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels via the Aisin supplied manual transmission to be fitted to production cars. In line with building buzz by parceling out information, Paul Elio told TTAC the P5 will also have revised front end styling that will be revealed later this week.
Though our friends at Jalopnik say that the P5 Elio has been already built, that’s not the case. (Read More…)
In its battles for the right to sell its wares directly to consumers, Tesla has found a valuable ally in the Federal Trade Commission.
Most of the big news at the 2015 New York International Auto Show took place on the first day of the media preview, with the introduction of the Cadillac CT6, production bound Lincoln Continental and Honda Civic concepts and an all-new Chevy Malibu, as well as the Porsche 911 fighting McLaren 570S. With that in mind it’s easy to understand why the press conferences for Elio Motors and Lyons Motors were relatively sparsely attended, being held on the second press day, though the two startups faced different obstacles in getting attention. Elio’s stand at the show was with the trucks on the lower level of the Javits Center, away from most of the cars, and reporters, upstairs. Lyons Motors’ head Kevin Lyons held his press conference in the concourse on the main level, but it was easy to miss as they had no car on display, just an empty piece of carpet and a lectern. (Read More…)
Elio Motors, the startup automaker hoping to produce and sell a low cost, high mileage reverse trike announced yesterday that the prototype of the IAV designed 0.9 liter, three cylinder single overhead cam engine to be used in their vehicle has successfully started dynamometer testing. A short video of the engine running in a test cell has also been released. While it remains to be seen if Elio will be able to raise the $200 million or so they say they need to start production in 2016 (pushed back from this year), the engine test is one of the more important steps on the journey to reach that goal. (Read More…)
While there has been ample skepticism of the Elio Motors enterprise, I’ve personally been one of the more optimistic, or at least less skeptical voices concerning the project. All along, though, I’ve said that there were benchmarks that had to be met, like progress on the IVL led Elio engine development program and the beginning of hiring in earnest for Elio’s facility in the former General Motors plant in Shreveport, LA, and that the time for skepticism would begin if and when those benchmarks weren’t met. Elio isn’t trying for a moonshot, just a 1,200 lb 55 horsepower reverse trike using mostly proven components, so whatever barriers to getting the enterprise off of the ground are mostly financial, not technological. Now, it seems that Elio will be missing one of those benchmarks, or at least moving the goalposts, as it scrambles to put together the almost quarter billion dollars Paul Elio says he needs to start production. (Read More…)
The Texas DMV has refused to register the new Polaris Slingshot, saying that motorcycles must be ridden from in a saddle, not driven from on a seat. The Slingshot and proposed Elio trike are both being marketed as motorcycles, as three-wheelers do not have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automobiles. Elio has told TTAC that they’re exempt from the Texas standard because their vehicle has an enclosed cab. We asked them if they’ve had discussions with the Texas DMV about their status. Elio’s vice president for governmental affairs, Joel Sheltrown, told me in an email,
Yes.. I confirmed this with TX DMV. Also the helmet and m[otorcycle] license exemption. We qualify in every instance to be registered in TX ..as a motorcycle. We will easily meet their requirements.
The makers of the spate of reverse three wheelers now on, or about to be on, sale including the Morgan 3 Wheeler, the proposed Elio Motors vehicle, and Polaris’ Slingshot, now just arriving at dealers, have used the fact that their vehicles are legally considered motorcycles, not cars to ease their passage through regulatory waters. As some critics of the Elio project have pointed out, those that live by their legal classification as not-cars, may also find legal realities that get in the way of selling their “motorcycles”. For example, will drivers be required to wear helmets in those jurisdictions that require them on motorcycle riders? With some already considering the Elio to be a form of birth control for single guys, having to wear a helmet inside it would make it even dorkier. Elio claims those problems are moot. Perhaps so, but just as Polaris is launching the Slingshot, a reverse trike starting at $20K, powered by a 2.4 liter GM Ecotec 4 cylinder engine, they have discovered that the State of Texas will not let the vehicle be registered there. (Read More…)
In it’s third quarter letter to investors, Tesla Motors announced that they are pushing back the start of production of their falcon-winged Model X crossover again, this time until the third quarter of 2015. This is the third time that production has been delayed for the Model X, which Elon Musk originally promised for 2013. That was subsequently pushed back to this year, then to late this year and now delayed again. Tesla put a good face on the delay, characterizing it as “a few months”, and attributing the later production start to more extensive validation testing, wanting to “delight customers” when the Model X does start deliveries.